The Thompson Memorial Chapel is located at 860 Main Street.
The Jewish Religious Center is located at 24 Stetson Court,
Williamstown, MA 01267
Who may use Thompson Memorial Chapel, the Jewish Religious Center or other College facilities?
- currently enrolled students
- members of the faculty (currently employed or emeritus)
- currently employed staff listed in the Williams College directory
- any Williams alumnus or alumna
- the son or daughter of any of the above
Weddings that take place at the Jewish Religious Center are those where both participants are Jewish.
Because the Thompson Memorial Chapel and the Jewish Religious Center are sacred spaces, weddings taking place in either building must be religious ceremonies. We are happy to suggest other locations for secular ceremonies.
What’s the procedure for reserving a date?
Who may officiate at the wedding, and how do we secure the services of an officiant?
One of the Chaplains of Williams College may be available to officiate; if this possibility is of interest to you, please notify our office as early as possible. If you do not have an officiant in mind, and if one of the Williams Chaplains is not available, we encourage you to seek the services of another certified officiant. While we are not able to offer the service of securing an officiant for you, we may be able to provide the names of local members of the clergy whom you may want to contact.
The laws of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts specify that any member of the clergy in good standing within a particular denomination, movement, order or other community of faith may officiate. Bearing in mind the requirement that all wedding ceremonies held in Thompson Memorial Chapel and at the Jewish Religious Center are religious ceremonies, we welcome the involvement of any qualified officiant you may have in mind – a beloved pastor or mentor, a family friend or relative, for example. When you supply his or her contact information, we will send a letter of invitation to your prospective officiant, asking him/her to certify that ordination or other credentials are in order.
Note that the laws of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts require that officiating clergy who are not residents of Massachusetts must apply for a special commission in advance from the Secretary of the Commonwealth in order to have legal standing to officiate at a particular wedding ceremony. If your officiant is not a Massachusetts resident, it is your responsibility to inform him/her of this important provision of the law; more information is available at http://www.sec.state.ma.us/pre/premar/marnon.htm
A Word to Couples Planning a Roman Catholic Wedding If your intention is to celebrate your wedding according to the tradition of Catholicism and you desire the presence or services of a local Roman Catholic priest, please be in touch with our Catholic Chaplain, Rev. Gary C. Caster at least a full nine months before the date of your ceremony. If you will be inviting a priest from your own home parish or another area, please encourage him to be in touch directly with Fr. Caster as soon as possible so that your pre-marital preparations can be in accord with Diocesan practice and policy, and so that your marriage can be duly recorded according to church law. Note, too, that Catholic priests and deacons are generally not available on Saturday afternoons and Sunday mornings (as well as most Sunday afternoons). Fr. Caster is not able to provide referrals in the event that he himself is unavailable for your wedding date.
What pre-marital preparation is required or recommended?
What is the procedure for obtaining a marriage license?
In Massachusetts you don’t automatically receive an official document from the state certifying that you’re married; so if you’d like a certified copy of your license for your records, you’ll need to indicate this to the Town Clerk at the time you pick up your license. There is a small fee for this additional service.
More information about marriage licenses in Massachusetts is available from the Secretary of the Commonwealth Citizen Information Service (617) 727-7030 or (800) 392-6090 MA only) - http://www.state.ma.us/sec/cis
What are the fees for the use of Thompson Memorial Chapel and the Jewish Religious Center?
A custodial fee of $200 payable by check to Williams College, must be returned with your reservation form. This fee is refundable in the event of changes in your plans.
Event insurance must be purchased by each couple – for which the typical charge is approximately $100-$150. Couples are required to purchase their own liability insurance coverage for the event; additional details will be included in your Letter of Agreement for Use of Williams College Facilities.
What other costs are involved?
Officiant – Each member of the clergy has his or her own policy or practice regarding remuneration for wedding services. It is your responsibility to inquire about the practice of your officiant, and to provide whatever honorarium or other compensation may be appropriate (including reimbursement of any expenses s/he may incur) directly to the officiant on or before the day of the wedding rehearsal.
The College chaplains are pleased to officiate at weddings as their schedules permit. Because these ceremonies lie outside the scope of their regular duties, they, like other clergy, should be appropriately compensated.
Organist and/or other musicians – Likewise, musicians establish their own individual rates of compensation for their services. Generally speaking, musicians do not attend the rehearsal – though if you desire, attendance can sometimes be arranged, usually at an additional cost. Payment (including reimbursement of any expenses) should be made directly to the musican(s) on or before the day of the wedding.
Wedding consultant/planner – The wedding ceremony itself does not require the services of a consultant/planner, and in general the Chaplains’ Office does not recommend the use of these services unless other aspects of the plans for the wedding day are particularly complex. Fees for these services vary widely.
Flowers, photography, etc. – These arrangements are made by each couple, and should conform to the policies and guidelines below.
License – Each town in Massachusetts sets its own marriage license fee; generally they range from $10 to $30. There may be an additional fee to obtain a certified copy of the license after the wedding for your own records.
How are arrangements for music for the ceremony made?
Because of the delicacy and value of the instrument, any other organist must apply directly to the Chaplains’ Office for permission to play the Thompson Chapel organ. In such cases, and with adequate notice, practice time can be arranged. A grand piano is also available in the Sanctuary.
Other musicians – instrumentalists and/or vocalists – are, of course, most welcome to participate in wedding ceremonies. Be sure to consult carefully with your officiant as you make arrangements for the services of other musicians – and also with the organist or pianist if rehearsal time is required for accompaniment.
What is the policy regarding decorations (including flowers) and other furnishings?
In addition to floral arrangements for the chancel of Thompson Memorial Chapel, floral decorations may be hung on the ends of the pews provided that no tacks, tape or other fasteners are used and no permanent marks are made.
For reasons of safety and environmental concern, the throwing of rice, birdseed, rose petals, or confetti is not allowed. Aisle runners are generally not used in Thompson Memorial Chapel.
Two seven-stick candelabra, two floral pedestals and a kneeler are available in Thompson Memorial Chapel. If plans for the ceremony include the use of a unity candle, you’ll need to provide the candle stand and tapers.